Brenda Tremblay's blog

Operatic interruptus

On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of opera lovers at Victor’s Regal Theatre missed significant chunks of Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” during The Met at the Movies HD broadcast. The video broke up and the sound dropped out at the beginning of the second Act. We watched distorted faces and heard digitized squawks for about a minute. Then the screen went blue. We waited. A staff member rushed in and said they were working on the problem. About ten minutes later, the sound came back and the singers reappeared. Then it happened again. Audiences members groaned, since things were getting really interesting with the shocking disclosure of the Duchess’s illegitimate daughter!

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Boys Gone Wild

I made the questionable decision to bring two nine year-old boys to work with me yesterday, based on the idealistic assumption that exposing them to the world of music and ideas would fire their imaginations, expand their horizons, and change their lives.

By the end of the day, I needed a shot of whisky.

First, we set off for the suite of Entercom-owned commercial radio stations across the street, where my son and his friend met a bunch of charming, funny deejays. One guy put them on the air. This act turned out to be hard to beat.

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Yo-Yo Ma

I have the chance to interview cellist Yo-Yo Ma this week. What should I ask him?

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Happy Earth Day

“Do I love you because you're beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you? Do I want you because you're wonderful, or are you wonderful because I want you? Are you the sweet invention of a lover's dream, or are you really as beautiful as you seem?” - Oscar Hammerstein II

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A curious vibe

A few months ago, writer Justin Davidson drove through the rain to the Brooklyn Lyceum to review Eastman conductor Brad Lubman’s performance of new music with the Wordless Music Orchestra. Davidson describes a scene where “the dress code is scruffy and the vibe is one of curiosity rather than reverence.” Rochester’s new classical music scene thrums with the same energy, particularly when Eastman students disregard conventions of the classical music culture and strike out for new territory.

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Beijing Olympics

Composer Philip Glass, who wrote music for the Los Angeles Olympics and the Athens Games, says “I think that we should pull out” of the summer contest in Beijing. He has political reasons. Read his comments in the April 21st edition of New York Magazine.

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New voice for the arts

The WXXI Public Broadcasting Council is proud to introduce an important new voice for the arts: Penny, the Artsy Hamster.

Born in a plastic bin in Petsmart, she recently accepted a new post as family pet, relocating to a cage in a private Western New York home. Inspired by Skitty, the popular author of “Secret Confessions from Skitty,” Penny now offers to share her considerable knowledge about the arts with you.

Her first question comes from Anonymous in Hightstown, New Jersey:

Dear Penny,

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Portraits

There’s a cartoon I want to show you, and I can’t find it, so I’ll just have to describe it. A single panel shows a child slumped at the dinner table, his face cupped in his hands, a portrait of utter dejection. His mother hovers over him, patting his shoulder and saying, “I’m sorry, dear! I remember when I met my first radio deejay, too.”

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Honey sweetness

The Rochester Oratorio Society is rehearsing Carmina Burana, the secular cantata by Carl Off, composed in the 1930’s. It's based on a thirteenth century manuscript discovered in a Bavarian monastery. Beloved by singers and derided by critics for its lack of polyphony, Carmina celebrates spring, sex, love, and drinking, all while bemoaning the vagaries of fate. It’s fun stuff. In the upcoming May performance, the conductor has decided to use the “Coro Piccolo,” that is, to have a small chorus sing some of the sections instead of the full choir singing everything. This doesn’t please those left out, and during last night’s rehearsal, a few confessed to feeling resentful. “I KNOW that part,” said one soprano chosen to sit out during the small chorus sections.

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World Made by Hand

I just finished James Kunstler’s new novel World Made by Hand. It’s the best book I’ve read in awhile. Years ago, Kunstler’s anti-suburbia polemic The Geography of Nowhere greatly influenced my thinking about urban planning, architecture, and public spaces. In his later non-fictional The Long Emergency, Kunstler imagined what our lives will be like (yes, he says, this WILL happen) when we run out of oil. The new novel is an apocalyptic, fictional telling of the same story, set a few decades from now in a small town in Upstate New York that mixes elements of Mad Max with Little House on the Prairie.

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